The Truth in the Lye
As crime scenes went, Booth was sometimes surprised that construction sites weren't something he visited more regularly; plenty of potential murder weapons, various locations to dump the body, and generally they were so open that it would be hard for anyone to really track down the murderer in the aftermath...
"Sorry if I interrupted anything," Bones said as the two of them walked into the site- he wondered if she'd just kept quiet about it earlier out of some sense of respecting his wishes-, Bones already wearing a blue hat while he carried a yellow one.
"What?" Booth said, trying not to think about what she actually had interrupted- somehow, Rebecca was one of those human aspects that he was never sure about; he enjoyed the ability to not worry about his curse, but it just felt somehow empty when he knew
it wasn't going to go too far even when it had the potential to be more- as he looked at her while fiddling with the mask and helmet he'd been provided with. "Oh! No, no, you didn't."
"Good," Bones said.
"OK," Booth said, feeling a sudden need to clarify the situation at the sight of his partner's smile. "But if you must know, you know, Rebecca, my ex… she stopped by my place to pick up a comic that I got Parker."
"OK," Bones said, still smiling.
"She just so happened to pick up the phone," Booth said, already feeling stupid for saying this but hoping it would be enough for the socially-ignorant Doctor Temperance Brennan. "That's it, you know? Nothing more, nothing less."
"I'm sorry," Bones said, as they turned a corner to enter the building, a bored tone to her voice. "Did I say I must know?"
As they walked into an unfinished bathroom in an equally unfinished condominium, Booth's thoughts on further protest ended as the stench coming from the bathtub in the middle of the room hit his nostrils, a closer look at the tub revealing a thick-looking brown liquid that put whatever response Booth might have made to that statement out of his head, a pale leg sticking out and various pieces floating in the tube that could have been human body parts even if Booth couldn't immediately identify which bit was which.
"Ooh, very nice," he said, groaning as he pulled on a mask even as Bones pulled out a tape recorder.
"Age and sex undetermined," Bone said, pausing to sniff the material in front of her as she spoke. "Victim is immersed in a pool of... what smells like a composite of domestic corrosives-"
"It smells more like, uh-" Booth began.
"Common drain declogger, acid wash, bleach," Bones interjected (It was probably for the best; the only things Booth could compare the scent to didn't exist in Bones's scientific world). "Submerged two to three days."
"All right," Booth said, taking the mask off now that his nose had adjusted to the reek- as a vampire, you had to adapt to bad smells fairly quickly since you were aware of so many that the average human would never really notice- as he indicated the tub, "are you saying that he's been here all weekend just dissolving?"
"Allowing the killer time for the corrosives to do their thing," Bones said, her tone contemplative as she circled the tub.
"Excuse me, can I get in here, please?" a man said from behind Booth, the agent turning around to look at a tanned man with slightly curly black hair in a brown leather jacket and pale shirt, looking impatiently back at him. "Yeah, I'm Pete Valero. I'm the development contractor."
"OK," Booth said, nodding in acknowledgement of the other man's identification of himself.
"Yeah," Valero said as he walked into the room. "I came as soon as-"
The sight of the tub bubbling left Valero turning around to vomit into the still-unfinished sink; evidently, whether human or vampire, Booth still had a stronger stomach than the average man.
"There could be evidence in there," Bones said, pointing at Valero and the sink.
"I'd say most of it's right in there," Booth pointed out, his attention focused on the tub.
"I'll need Zack to help me extract the remains and whatever else is beneath the surface," Bones continued, her attention back on the case
"Wouldn't it be a lot easier if we took the whole tub?" Booth asked, shrugging as he indicated the object in question; it would be heavy, but it didn't strike him as something they couldn't handle…
"No, no, no, wait," Valero said (Why was it people could get sick when discussing death but be perfectly willing to discuss what Booth was certain would be a financial matter?). "That- that tub is a- is a Godive 3000. These things aren't cheap."
"Oh, do you think anybody is actually gonna want this Godive 3000 after this?" Booth asked.
"Well, would they have to know?" Valero asked, prompting a scoff from Bones that Booth only didn't mimic out of his desire to maintain a degree of professionalism. "Look, I'm just saying, with subsidized housing, the government wants every nickel accounted for."
"I'll get you a receipt," Booth said, looking at the man as another line of questioning occurred to him, "if you can tell me why the boss of the job is just showing up right now."
"I was at the dentist," Valero said, looking at Booth before his gaze shifted to the tub. "I got a call in the middle of a root canal. Who knew I'd be better off there?"
"Do you know who this is?" Booth asked, pointing at the tub (A long shot, considering the visible state of the body, but he felt obliged to ask).
"How would I know?" Valero asked, as Bones pulled on gloves and began to examine the tub's contents using various tongs that probably had some technical name Booth wasn't immediately remembering. "I got over two hundred workers on this site alone… not to mention all the kids and the- the vandals coming through here on the weekend."
His attempted defence was cut short when he turned to look at the tub, just as Bones pulled out something that Booth didn't need his training to identify as skin without anything inside it.
"Oh my God..." Valero said, turning away with a sick expression as he ran towards the door.
"Oh God," Booth groaned, as the man who was moving onto the suspects list began to leave the scene.
"Bones!" he said, glaring at his partner before he looked at Valero, indicating the basic 'corridor' outside the unfinished door. "Wait out there."
"It's only skin," Bones said, holding up the object with the tongs. "OK, I'll need that window, a forklift, and a flatbed."
"Why?" Booth asked.
"You called it," Bones said, tapping the tub for clarification. "We want answers, the tub is coming with us."
As she pulled out what seemed to be a person's hair after they'd been literally scalped, Booth tried not to remember the last time he'd faced something capable of reducing a grown man to nothing but loose skin.
He might have eventually managed to adjust to the idea that he'd fall victim to old age eventually after beginning his life as Seeley Booth, but what Marcus Roscoe had done to others still left him feeling sick; innocent young men, sacrificed in the name of nothing more than Marcus's pathetic desire to recapture his youth...
If this was anything like what he'd dealt with then, he really wasn't looking forward to this case; he wasn't sure he'd be able to resist the temptation to punch whoever was responsible for killing off young men because he couldn't accept that his glory days had passed, and that was assuming that they could find a 'legitimate' reason to suspect whoever was behind this without bringing magic into it.
"I was not gossiping," Bones said, as she examined something under a microscope back in the Jeffersonian's forensic lab, Booth reclining in a chair to take advantage of the temporary opportunity to get off his feet while the victim's bones lay on a table beside her.
"Oh, really?" he said, looking sceptically at her. "So then what would you call it?"
"Merely sharing a point of interest," Bones said.
"Great," Booth said, standing up and walking towards her. "So now what am I, huh? The world's largest ball of string?"
"Not you, your behaviour," Bones said, lifting her head up from the microscope to turn and look at him with that same almost blank expression that made him so frustrated at times; she never seemed to understand why what she was saying would get on others' nerves. "It was a textbook example of just how helpless we higher primates can be to our biological urges."
"I am not helpless," Booth said, wishing that he didn't find himself suddenly thinking of how things had been with Buffy after he returned from Hell; that had been hard because they'd been unable to give themselves one single perfect night to make up for the last one, not
because they'd been unable to control their hormones!
OK, so he'd enjoyed the relationship with Nina because it had been easier to deal with the whole mess going on in his life with a pleasant, relatively innocent person to spend time with who knew what he was and accepted him without making him too
happy, but sex hadn't been that
big a deal about it…
"He's not elderly," Bones said, as she turned her attention back to the microscope.
"I can control my- who?" Booth asked, his initial protest forgotten when faced with Bones's sudden change of topic.
"Our victim," Bones explained, stepping back from the microscope to indicate the display on the attached screen that meant virtually nothing to Booth (Cell structures and modern art were so confusing he sometimes got the two mixed up even after over a year of regular contact with the Jeffersonian staff). "You see these marrow cells? The lack of collagen indicates osteogenesis imperfecta. Brittle bone disease."
"And that's supposed to tell me he's not... old?" Booth asked; to him, it sounded like it could indicate exactly that.
"Not necessarily," Bones clarified, before her expression suddenly became curious. "And if you're not helpless, then why did you sleep with her?"
"Oh, I really don't recall saying that I did," Booth countered before he could stop himself (He should have just ignored that statement and tried to stay on topic), trying to keep his voice low to avoid attracting too much attention to this conversation.
"You didn't have to," Bones said, her voice at its regular volume as she smiled at him. "I could hear it in your voice. I might as well as walked in on you having sex."
"You didn't and we weren't," Booth said, turning around to walk away before this got any more frustrating.
"Well, it's nothing to be ashamed of, Booth," Bones said, clearly not interpreting his signal to end this discussion, forming him to turn around and smile at her out of a lack of any alternative responses he could make as his partner continued speaking. "Humans act upon a hierarchy of needs, and sex is very highly ranked. It's an anthropological inevitability."
"Thank you, Bones," Booth said, looking at her in exasperation, "I really appreciate you boiling me down to your anthropological inevitabilities."
"Sure," Bones said, her slightly confused expression at least suggesting she was aware that he wasn't happy even if she wasn't clear on what to do about it.
"Any time," Booth said.
"You know," Bones said, her attention back on the case, "if our victim had brittle bone, there could be a web site of some kind. He might have been listed."
It wasn't one of his strong areas of research, but at least it was something that he could look into without needing to be in a position where he'd potentially have to continue this awkward conversation.
"Unbelievable," Bones said, as the two of them walked out of the interrogation room after the last interview with Larry Turner/Seaver/whatever's two wives and one mistress.
"Yeah, you got that right," Booth said, glad to find himself in agreement with his partner on what would clearly be a key part of the case. "You know what? They're lying."
"How do you know?" Bones asked, as they began to walk along the corridor
"Oh, come on," Booth said. "They've been lying since day one. Between all of them, they should have a dozen Oscars by now."
"I know what those are," Bones said, pointing in understanding at him.
"I mean, come on, suicide
?" Booth asked, as they began to walk away from the interrogation room and down the corridor towards Booth's office. "Bird shot, or not, okay, every self-inflicted I've seen, the guy shoots himself, and he drops the gun. Right? It's an automatic reaction. Bang, drop. There's no way the gun ends up in his mouth."
"Then we'd better go dig up that gun," Bones said.
"Seeley," a familiar voice said, prompting Booth to turn and look at Rebecca as she walked towards them, dressed in a dark dress as she smiled at him.
"I'll get the ball rolling," Bones said, before she turned to walk along the corridor, leaving Booth to look awkwardly at the mother of his child.
"Was that Doctor Brennan?" Rebecca asked, a slight edge to her voice that made it clear that she knew who he'd just been talking to and had said that just to break the ice.
"Uh-huh," Booth said, focusing his mind on the most relevant issue right now. "Why are you here?"
"I needed to know if you were going to coach Parker's T-ball team this year," Rebecca replied.
"You know I always coach Parker's T-ball team," Booth said; he didn't need her initial uncertainty to know that she was lying about that being the reason for her presence here.
"I didn't want to assume-" Rebecca began.
"OK, whoa; what is going on here, Rebecca?" Booth asked, pulling her into the nearby empty conference room, closing the door behind them before resuming the conversation. "Because, look, I thought we agreed here; we cannot end up groping each other in the FBI closet. We can't do that. We're done."
"I know," Rebecca said.
"Really?" Booth replied, actually surprised at the directness of the statement; he'd been so prepared for an argument he actually wasn't sure what to do now that there wasn't going to be one.
"Seeley, all the excuses I gave you for not wanting to get married…my independence, your work…" Rebecca began.
"I know," Booth said, not wanting to give her the chance to finish that sentence; he had always known that he wasn't father material after all the mistakes he'd made when raising Connor, no matter how enthusiastically he'd tried to make up for them with Parker…
"No, you don't," Rebecca said, looking at him with a solemn yet satisfied expression on her face that somehow relaxed all of Booth's fears even as she spoke. "You are a wonderful father. And Parker is a lucky kid. Such a lucky kid."
Booth had no idea what to say to that; after the lengths he'd had to go through to try and save Connor from his own mistakes, to hear that he could
be a good father to anyone…
"And obviously, we still have feelings for each other…" Rebecca said, her voice trailing off as she looked at him with a slightly seductive smile. "Do you still wanna marry me?"
"Rebecca…" Booth said, looking at her for a moment, suddenly lost in his memories of what could have been, the possibilities that had ended so long ago…
He couldn't do it.
They'd had a good relationship, but he would have been involved with her for all the wrong reasons, and he would be restarting it for those same wrong reasons; Rebecca deserved to be loved for herself, rather than loved by a man who had started the relationship because he was seeking to redefine his identity and was reminded of his 'type'.
"No," he said, the silence that had settled over them needing to be dispelled. "I don't."
"I don't want to marry you either," Rebecca said, inclining her head in acknowledgement of the deeper meaning behind this conversation, the two staring silently at each other for a moment before Rebecca reached into her bag and took out a small sheet of paper. "Here are the forms for T-Ball. I'll miss you."
"Yeah," Booth said, understanding what she meant. "And I'm gonna miss you too."
"You know what I'm gonna miss the most?" Rebecca asked, the hint of a smile on her lips as she tilted her head at him.
"Yeah," Booth said. "But let's not go there."
As Rebecca left, a smile on her face, Booth leaned against the door as he looked after her, a smile fighting to emerge on his face as he contemplated what they'd just discussed.
a good father…
Somehow, more than the satisfaction of knowing that their complicated relationship had finally achieved a kind of definition that he had been looking for ever since she rejected his proposal.
"So, you never said how it ended up with Rebecca," Bones asked, Booth sitting in her office as she looked over a file.
"Well, yeah, it ended," Booth said, looking away from his partner; now that he had to discuss it, he wasn't entirely sure how to best phrase it. "The only time we'll ever spend together is with Parker."
"You sure that's what you want?" Bones asked, looking at him as she put the file down on her desk.
"You know what, Bones?" Booth said, looking back at her as she walked around the desk to look thoughtfully at him. "It might be all anthropology to you, but there are certain people that you just can't sleep with."
He found himself initially remembering Darla, but he pushed that aside; saving her had been about a deranged belief that he was redeeming himself by redeeming her, not because he just wanted to have sex with her.
"I mean, you can pretend that it's just sex," he said, recalling some of the times he'd tried to convince himself to risk it all for a last night with Buffy and all of the arguments he'd used to stop himself. "You can lie to yourself, and you can say that it's all good. But, um, there's just- There's too many strings and- and too much at stake, you know? Too much to lose."
"Yeah," Bones said, smiling slightly in acknowledgement of some kind of understanding. "I can see that."
"It's over, you know?" he said, standing up from the couch that he'd been sitting on. "I'd appreciate, you know, your support in that."
"I will," Bones said, after a moment's silence as she apparently processed the request. "And if you should slip, I will… keep my mouth shut about it."
"Thank you," Booth said. "But, I mean, it's not like I'm gonna-"
"No, I mean with anybody," Bones clarified. "I'm sure Rebecca's not your only option for satisfying your biological urges."
The subsequent eye contact was broken when Angela and Hodgins walked into the office, saving Booth from having to analyse that 'moment' in more depth than it might deserve.
"Please tell me these women are not going to jail," Angela asked, looking in frustration at the two of them as though they were personally responsible for whatever sentence the women would receive for simply discovering the body of the man who'd been cheating on all of them.
"After trying to bilk the insurance system, I imagine they'll get nothing less than a firing squad," Hodgins said firmly.
"Not if they never filed a claim," Angela protested.
"Because our friends here caught them," Hodgins pointed out.
"Well, you're both kinda right," Booth said, feeling inexplicably awkward at the interruption (He wasn't feeling this way because of that
; it would just make everything too complicated). "Given their kids and the circumstances, the D.A. is gonna offer probation provided that all three women show remorse and attend mandatory counselling."
"In exchange for movie rights, I hope," Hodgins said, grinning over at Angela. "You know they're gonna get calls."
"I hope so," Angela said, Hodgins walking away as Angela turned her attention to Booth with a slight smile. "Hey, nice going by the way; Cam tells me you're back with your ex."
"Cam," Booth said; somehow, he had a feeling that 'Cam' hadn't been the one to reveal that particular item of trivia.
"Mmm," Angela said, nodding at him with a slight smile.
"Cam in her office?" he asked, getting up and leaving the room before the atmosphere could become any more awkward.
He wasn't sure how this upcoming conversation was going to go down, but he had a good feeling about this upcoming turn of events…